Richard Mather Bayles.

History of Richmond County (Staten Island), New York from its discovery to the present time online

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but as the several nationalities mingled and intermarried, it
gradually died out, and the Dutch became the prevailing tongue
until after the conquest, when in its turn it succumbed to the
language of the conquerors. The Dutch, however, continued
to be used in social intercourse and the services of the sanctuary
for a long time after the conquest, and less than half a century
ago its uncouth accents were still heard in some dwellings.

The Dutch were never addicted to the observance of holidays;
Custydt, or Christinas, and Nieuw Jaar, or New Year, were
about the only ones of a religious character in which they in-
dulged ; Paas, or Easter was surrendered to the children, and
Pingster or Whitsunday to the negroes. Children have not
yet resigned their claim to their especial holiday in Dutch com-
munities. Religious services were regularly held on Christmas,
and on the first day of the New Year, on which occasion the
newly elected church officers were formally inducted into their
respective offices, and this ceremony was called " being married
to the church."

The following extract from the records shows the process
of accomplishing marriage to satisfy the requirements of the
law in early times :

" Thes Are to giue notes to whome It may concarn that
Richard Fathfall (?) and Elisabeth Larans [Lawrence] hath bin
Publeshed A Cording to Law


on this 15th day of Oversear

Jenewery 1682


" The A Bone [above] Mentioned Parsons Ar Mared [married]
By Me on the 25th day of Jenewery 1682

"By order OBADIAH HULJIES Clarck."

It was a common practice for farmers to allow their stock to
run at large in the woods and wild pastures. To provide against
loss of stock and to avoid disputes in regard to the ownership
of animals thus running at large two institutions of the
period were brought into requisition. These were "pounds"
and " ear-marks." The first record that we find of the former
is the following decree of the Court of Sessions :

September 6, 1720, "Ordered that a good suffic* publick pound
be erected and made at or near the burying place by the Dutch
Church in the North precinct ; and Ordered Likewise that there
be another pound erected in some convenient place at Smoaking
point in the West precinct. Whoever will be at the charge of
making sd. pounds shall have all profitt, accruing by pound-
age." '

We do not know who built the pounds, or when they were
built, or how long they were maintained.

Ear-marks were various slits and cuts in the ears of
cattle and sheep, and, perhaps, some other animals that were to
be turned loose, by which they could be identified. A descrip-
tion of the peculiar mark of each stock-owner was registered
upon the books of the town, and the entry was generally ac-
companied by a rude illustration of the mark. The following
entry is an illustration of the registration :
" March 30th Annoq Domini 1774

" Gilbert Tottons ear mark for his cattle & sheep &c is a slit
in the end of both ears viz. from the tip end down towards the
head & a half moon on the upper part of the right ear.

Entered the day and year above written by


The following figures, showing the population of the island at
different times during the Colonial pei-iod, are arranged from
tables in the documentary history of the province.

Men. Women. Children. Blacks. Total.

328 208 118 73 727

. . ; 505




White Males. White Females.




. 777
. 856
. 887
. 862




In 1693 the following persons were civil officers of Richmond
County :

Ellis Duxbury, Esq., judge of the common Pleas. Abraham
Cannor (Cannon). Abraham Lakeman (Lockman), Dennis The-
unisse and John Shadwell, justices ; John Stilwell, Esq., sheriff.
The militia of the county consisted of two companies of foot,
104 men in all, under the command of Capt. Andrew Cannon.

The following are the names of civil and military officers of
the county of Richmond for the year 1739 :
Judges of the Court of Common Picas. Jacob Corsen, Colonel.
John Le Conte, Judge. Christiene Corsen, Lt. Col.

Christian Corsen, 2d Judge. Thomas Billopp, Major.

Gozen Adrianz, 3d Judge.
Nicolas Britton, Justice.
Richard Stilwell, do.
Joseph Bedell, do.

John Veghte, do.

Rem Vander Beek, do.
John Latourette, do.
Thomas Billop, do.
Cornelius Corsen, do.
Joshua Mersereau, do.
Abraham Cole, do.
Barent Martling, do.
Nicholas Larzelere, Sheriff.
John Hillyer, Coroner.
Daniel Corsen, Clerk.

North Division.
John Veghte, Captain.
Frederick Berge, Lieutenant.
Jacob Corsen, Jun., Ensign

South Division.

Cornelius Stoothoff, Captain.
Jacob Berge, Lieutenant.
Aris Rvertse (Ryerss), Ensign.

M\'st Division.

Nathaniel Britton, Captain.
Marthias Johnson, Lieutenant.
Abraham Maney (Manee), Ensign.

The Troop.

Peter Pen-in (Perine), Captain.
J-arret Crosse, Lieutenant.
Wynant Wynants, Cornet.
Danul Wynants, Qr. Master.



ONARY PERIOD 1775 to 1783.

Events Prior to
cursions ar
York and

n of Independence. The Coming of Howe. In-
The Close of the War and the Evacuation of New
Incidents of the Revolutioiiarv Period.

DUF ariod of the revolution Staten Island was

of many important events. Located as it
is so c the metropolis, it became a favorite spot for

the e' of the British army, and was made the seat

of rr Owing to this wealth of historic associations

we s ' oned for devoting liberal space to the notice of

thif le island was not in a condition to defend itself

ag' rsions of any foe who might approach it with re-

ST . As an example of the poverty of its martial

? iy before the war we submit the following extract

rds :

o. 1770 then the Supervisars Examined into the ac-

arms that was bought for the county and Benjamin

Brought in the account of What quantity Was in

hair Was in his hands 36 Delivered to Captain

guns and 12 hangers and guns With Bagnits to Mr.

. one Gun With a bagnit to Cornoral Dongan."

le war clouds were gathering and the preliminary

; being taken in other parts there seems to have been

stir here in the direction of sustaining the cause of

mce. The people were not unanimous in their senti-

it were probably held in check by nearly an equal di-

tween the cause of the colonists and the cause of the

jographical situation of the island gave a direction to
tical sentiments of the people. Commanding the ap-
to the metropolis and the province, whatever nation
:d it, took advantage of its natural facilities in a mili-


tary point of view. The Dutch had a battery on die heights
of the Narrows at one time ; the English enlarged the military
works at the same important point, and the United States have
not failed to improve itsadvai. Vhoever, then, possessed

this important point, before the <n, to a certain extent

might be said to possess, or at leas x>l the island and the

metropolis. Whilst the English i T;overnment of the

province, the people naturally imb. -lish sentiments ;

freedom of opinion on political subje, - as the nature

and character of the government was coi 'as not toler-

ated. It is not to be wondered at, then, t ^le who for

more than a century had been taught to bei was little

short of treason to doubt the divine origin -hy, and

especially of the English monarchy, should 1 tiously

opposed to a change which was calculated to o all their

most cherished institutions. More than half ol ation

on the island, at the dawn of the revolution, -r of

English birth or descent, and few, perhaps non >ed

the idea that the rebellion could by any possit 1,

and even among the whigs themselves there w>
thousands who hoped against hope.

Nearly all the descendants of the early Dutch s
whigs or patriots, and those of French descent w
between them and the English. Many of the Fre
settled here before the conquest of the province by t
had intermarried with the Dutch, who were then th.
class, and had imbibed Dutch opinions, manners am
and had even fallen into the use of the Dutch Ian'
some of the families bearing French names and of F
scent, at the present day, are to be found family reco
as they are, written in the Dutch language. There w
ever, another and more marked difference between tht
of the several nationalities than mere political sentime
opinions ; the Dutch were imbued with a deep religioi
ing ; they were not generally as well educated as the E
but they could read and write, and keep their own ace
the English had their religion, too, but they were more
and less earnest and devoted than their neighbors ; the
in this, as in other respects, accommodated their relii
that of the class witli which they had amalgamated. TJ
cause throughout the country was calculated to fos f er rt


enthusiasm, for, being conscious of their own weakness as com-
pared with the mighty power and resources of Great Britain,
they naturally looked to a higher power than that of man to
sustain them in what they conscientiously believed to be the
cause of right.

In February, 1775, this county was represented in the colonial
assembly by Christopher Billop and Benjamin Seaman. When,
on the 23d. of the month, a motion was before the house " that
the sense of this House be taken, on the Necessity of appoint-
ing Delegates for this Colony, to meet the Delegates for the
other Colonies on this Continent, in General Congress, on the
10th Day of May next," these representatives of Richmond
voted in the negative.

That bad blood was being stirred up here and in the immedi-
ate vicinity thus early, is shown by the following affray which
took place in Elizabethtown about the time of which we have
just spoken.

On the 8th of February, about noon, a Staten Island man was
approaching the shore at Elizabethtown, when a party of men
seized his boat, which was loaded with oysters, and forcibly
dragged it up into the street and then distributed the oysters
among themselves with an unceremonious and peremptory hand.
The cause appears to have been that the owner of the boat was
supposed to be one of a party of men from " that ever loyal
Island," as a tory paper describes Staten Island, who had as-
sisted in violating the order of congress prohibiting the impor-
tation of goods after the first of February of that year. The
man was James Johnson, of Richmond county, and he applied
to a justice of the peace, who advised him to remain quiet for
a few hours until the riotous collection of people who were then
in the street had become more cool, which he did, and the re-
sult of this caution was the aversion of any further violence.
Though this affair was of but small magnitude yet it served as
an occasion for "Rivingtoii 1 s Gazette,'' 1 the leading loyal paper of
the time in New York, to set forth an exaggerated account- of
the disorderly and lawless character of the whigs.

The people of the island assembled on the llth of April fol-
lowing, to take action in regard to sending delegates to the
provincial congress which was to convene in New York soon
after. The report says that the result was almost unanimously
against sending delegates. The whigs must have improved


some later opportunity for gaining a representation, for when
the congress convened, on the 22d of May following, we h'nd
Richmond county was represented by Paul Micheau, John
Journey, Col. Aaron Cortelyou, Richard Conner and Major
Richard Lawrence.

The strong tory sentiment on the island made association with
the people here undesirable to the people of New Jersey at
Elizabethtown. The committee at the latter place had refused
to allow commerce between the two places to be carried on.
We have seen the result of a disregard of that restriction, in
the riot of the preceding February. The committee seem to
have relented, however, for on July 17th they passed the fol-
lowing order, Jonathan Hampton, a prominent "rebel" being
then chairman.

" The Chairman of this Committee having received a letter
from Mr. Richard Lawrence, a Delegate of Richmond county
for the Provincial Congress of the colony of New York, in-
forming that the inhabitants of said county had, in general,
signed the Association recommended by the Committee of New
York. This Committee are therefore of opinion that the in-
habitants of said county be restoi'ed to their commercial privi-
leges with the inhabitants of this town."

September 1, 1775, David Burger, of New York, sent a letter
to the congress complaining that sundry persons in Richmond
county had supplied a transport with live stock, and the matter
was referred to the members of that county to make inquiry on
the subject.

On the 1st of December, 1775, Paul Micheau, one of the depu-
ties from Richmond county in the first provincial congress, ad-
dressed a letter to the secretary of the congress, in which he
says that he had requested the county committee to convene
the people to elect new deputies ; that a meeting of the com-
mittee had been called, and that only a minority appeared,
who for that reason declined to act, and requests congress to
write to them and learn their reasons for not convening the
people, and concludes by hoping the congress may be able to
keep tranquility and good order in the province, and make
peace with the mother country. He then gave the names of
the committee as follows: Capt. John Kittletas, Capt. Christian
Jacobson, Capt. Cornelius Dussosway, Henry Ferine, David
Latourette, Esq., Peter Mersereau, John Poillon, Moses Depuy,


Lambert Merrill, John Tysen, Joseph Christopher, George Bar-
rus and David Corsen.

To this communication congress replied the next day in a let-
ter addressed to "John Poillon, John Tysen and Lambert Mer-
ril, of the committee for Richmond County," urging them to
elect deputies to represent them without delay, and they added
emphatically, "rest assured, gentlemen, that the neighboring
colonies will not, remain inactive spectators if you show a dis-
position to depart from the Continental Union." They con-
cluded their letter in these words: "We beg, gentlemen, you
will consider this matter with that seriousness which the peace,
good order and liberties of your county require."

To this the committee made the following reply:

." RICHMOND COUNTY, Dec'r 15th, 1775.
Mr. President:

SIR: Your favour of 2A Decem'r. we hereby acknowledge
came safe to our hand, and with the majority of our committee
considered the contents. We, agreeable to your request, have
caused by advertisement the freeholders and inhabitants in our
county to be convened on this day, in order that their sense
might be taken" whether they will choose deputies to represent
them in a provincial congress or not. Accordingly, a number
of the said freeholders and inhabitants did appear ; a regular
poll was opened, and continued till 6 o'clock; at the conclusion
of which it appeared that a majority was, for the present, for
sending no deputies. Our former conduct in sending of depu-
ties to represent us in Provincial Congress, was elevated with
encouraging hopes of having, ere this, obtained the so much
desired point in our view, namely, a reconciliation with Great
Britain. But, with anxiety we express it, that the hopes of
obtaining so desirable an event, is now almost vanished out of
our sight ; and, instead of which, we behold with horror, every
appearance of destruction, that a war witli Great Britain will
bring upon us. Under these apprehensions, and in our particu-
lar situation, we hope you will view us, and when candidly con-
sidered, we trust will furnish you with sufficient reason, for the
present, to forbear with us.

"We wish and pray that if yet any hope of reconciliation is



left, that measures might be adopted, if possible, to obtain that
desirable end, in wishing of which we conclude ourselves,
Your most obt.

And most humble serv'ts,

Prest. of Provl. Congress, New York.

"P. S.- Should the congress think it necessary for further in-
formation of the state of our county, they will please to order
two of our committee to appear before them for that purpose."

On the 21st, congress passed several resolutions, censuring
Richmond county for its delinquency, and resolved that if
within fifteen days a list of the names of those who oppose a
representation in congress be not sent to that body, the whole
county shall be considered delinquent, and entirely put out of
the protection of congress, and that intercourse with them shall
be interdicted, and that the names of delinquents shall be pub-
lished in all the newspapers of the colony.

During the recess of the congress, the committee of safety
was in session. On the 12th of January, 1776, Richard Law-
rence and Christian Jacobson appeared before the committee
and represented that the majority of the people of Richmond
county were not averse, but friendly to the measures of con-
gress ; Lawrence was a member of the committee for Richmond

On the 23d of the same month the following letter was re-
ceived by the committee of safety from the Richmond county

"RICHMOND COUNTY, Jan'y 19, 1776.

"Gentlemen Whereas the committee for this county have
caused by advertisement the freeholders to be convened on this
day, in order to elect two members to represent this county in
Provincial Congress ; accordingly a poll was opened for that
purpose, without any opposition, at the close of which it ap-
peared by a majority, that Messrs Adrian Banker and Richard


Lawrence was duly elected to represent this county in Provin-
cial Congress until the second Tuesday in May next, which we
hope will be agreeable to the rest of that body.
We are, gentlemen,

Your mo. obt. and most humble servts.


" To the Committee of Safety on recess
of the Provincial Congress in New York."

The reputation of Richmond county for its want of sympathy
in the cause of the colonies seems to have gained more than a
local hearing. It reached the ears of the continental congress,
and that body made it the subject of .action, as shown by the
following extract from the minutes :

"!N CONGRESS, Feb'ySth, 1776.

" The inhabitants of Richmond county, in the Colony of New
York, having refused to send Deputies to represent them in
Provincial Convention, and otherwise manifested their enmity
and opposition to the system and measures adopted for pre-
serving the liberties of America ; and as a just punishment for
their inimical conduct, the inhabitants of that Colony having
been prohibited by the Convention from all intercourse and
dealings with the inhabitants of the said county; and this
Congress being informed by the Committee of Safety of that
Colony, that the freeholders of the said county did afterwards,
without any opposition, elect Deputies to represent them in
Provincial Convention ; but as the proceedings against them
had been submitted to the consideration of Congress, it was ap-
prehended Deputies would not be received until the sense of
Congress should be communicated.

"Resolved, That it be referred to the said Provincial Conven-
tion to take such measures respecting the admission of the
Deputies, and revoking the interdict on the inhabitants of the


said county, us they shall judge most expedient, provided that
the said Deputies and major part of the inhabitants of said
county shall subscribe the association entered into by that

" Extract from the minutes.


It was then ordered by the provincial congress that the reso-
lution of the continental congress be transmitted to the deputies
lately elected by the people of Richmond county.

The congress being apprehensive that General Clinton would
attempt to land upon Staten Island for the purpose of making
depredations and carrying off live stock, had requested the pro-
vincial congress of New Jersey to send Colonel Herd, with his
regiment, to the island to prevent it, and lest he might not get
there in time, a like request was made to the committee of
Elizabethtown. This measure excited the apprehensions of
the people of Staten Island, who were suspicious of the errand
of Colonel Herd and his regiment. Accordingly, on the 19th of
February, the two deputies, Adrian Banckerand Richard Law-
rence, hastened to inform the congress that they had subscribed
to the association entered into by the colony, and that seven
eighths of the people had done so likewise "long since," and
that the coming of Colonel Herd, "with a large body of men, to
call the people to account for their inimical conduct," just then
when many of the people were coming into the measures, and
the cause gaining ground daily, would have an injurious effect,
and they suggest that the stopping of the New Jersey forces
would quiet the minds of the people. On the same day con-
gress replied and assured the deputies that Colonel Herd's er-
rand to the island did not in any manner relate to the people of
the county, except to protect their property, and that a counter
request had been forwarded to New Jersey. The two deputies
were requested to attend the congress and to bring with them
the proof that the majority of the people had subscribed to the
association, to enable them to take their seats.

The committee of Elizabethtown had caused the apprehension
and imprisonment at that place, of Isaac Decker, Abraham Har-
ris and Minne Burger, and had held Richard Conner, Esq.,
under bonds to appear before them, upon charges not specified.
The congress of New York entered into a correspondence with
the committee of that place, and requested them to send the


delinquents to the county where they belonged, to be tried by
the county committee. The committee of Richmond were also
informed of the action of the congress, and were instructed to
try the delinquents and mete out to them impartial justice, and
report to congress. On the 23d of February, Mr. Adrian
Bancker's name appears among those of the members of the
congress. On the 28th of February, Decker and Burger were
returned to their own county, and the charges against them
and Richard Conner were also transmitted to the committee of
Richmond. Nothing is said of Harris.

The committee of Elizabethtown, at the time of surrendering
them, disclaimed all knowledge of their offenses, but intimated
that they had been arrested by Colonel Herd, at the instance
of either the New York or the continental congress.

The proposed expedition of Colonel Herd to Staten Island to
protect the live stock there, originated with General Lee. Hav-
ing communicated his apprehensions to the committee of safety,
that body, on the 10th of February, 1776, addressed a letter to
the provincial congress of New Jersey, in which they say : "The
entrance of Genl. Clinton into our port on pretence of merely
paying a visit to Govr. Tryon, though he has been followed by
a transport with troops, which we have good reason to believe
are only a part of 600 that embarked with him at Boston, rend-
ers it highly probable that some lodgement of troops was in-
tended to be made in or near this city ; " and as no troops from
New York could be spared from its defense, and as Colonel
Herd's regiment was so near Staten Island, General Lee deemed
it proper that he should be sent over for its protection. The
next day the committee addressed another letter to the same
convention, informing them that the "Mercury," ship of war,
with two transports under her convoy, had left the port, and
anchored near Staten Island, and expressed their fears that the
Colonel would arrive too late. In reply, the New Jersey con-
gress informed the committee on the 12th that Colonel Herd,
with seven hundred men, had been ordered to march immedi-
ately to Staten Island. On the 17th, congress expressed their
thanks to Colonel Herd for his alacrity in their service, but as
the danger had now passed (probably by the departure of the

Online LibraryRichard Mather BaylesHistory of Richmond County (Staten Island), New York from its discovery to the present time → online text (page 16 of 72)